Our New Drug Czar on Legalization: An Emphatic "No"

Via Tom at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: New drug czar Gil Kerlikowske was on KUOW radio today, talking about his new role.

He called the idea of legalization "waving the white flag" and said "legalization is off the the charts when it comes to discussion, from my viewpoint" and that "legalization vocabulary doesn't exist for me and it was made clear that it doesn't exist in President Obama's vocabulary."

Regarding marijuana, he said, "It's a dangerous drug" and, regarding its medical benefits, he said, "we will wait for evidence on whether smoked marijuana has any medicinal benefits - those aren't in." [More...]

Regarding interdiction efforts, he said, "eradication and the efforts that the United States has played in helping Plan Colombia have been viewed as successful."

He said the Seattle initiative that made marijuana arrests the lowest law enforcement priority"didn't make any difference" in the criminal justice system and that it was never a priority to arrest adults for personal possession of marijuana and that they've always had enough time and resources to deal with violent crime. Right...

On the fact that marjuana and drug policy questions overwhelmed the president's online town hall meeting a few weeks ago, he said,"the legalization debate and discussion has been around a long time. When it comes to an electronic town hall, there are people that can motivate lots of others and lots of sophistication to put a question forward. There are pretty sophisticated groups that are able to manipulate or use that sort of system."

As Tom notes, this is disconcerting, to say the least.

So, let's get this straight: No to legalization, medical pot hasn't been proven beneficial and all pot is dangerous. How is this change?

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    "It's a dangerous drug..." (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by kdog on Fri May 22, 2009 at 01:57:35 PM EST
    Well, you're a dangerous man Kerlikowske, more of a threat to the well being of free people than reefer ever could be...can we prohibit your arse?

    Seems Seattle's gain was the (none / 0) (#7)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:48:18 PM EST
    country's loss.

    I didn't like him as police chief, either.


    Q.: "How is this change?" (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by scribe on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:01:25 PM EST
    A.:  The same way changing your undershirt every day is change.

    It's clean, and it feels great, but it's still a white, crew-necked t-shirt just like the one you had on yesterday, and just like the one you'll have on tomorrow.  Looks the same, feels the same, and is indistinguishable from any other.

    In so many words, the "Change" Obama sold is that kind of change.  A fresh t-shirt just like the one we just tossed in the hamper.

    Best analogy I've read i two years. (none / 0) (#16)
    by tokin librul on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:55:12 PM EST
    Exactly right.

    Well said.


    I will be quite blunt about this (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by scribe on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:15:05 PM EST
    While I wholeheartedly agree that dope should be legalized and taxed, I also do not disagree with not doing it now.

    My reason has nothing to do with the senselessness or sensibility of prohibition.

    Rather, it has everything to do with "if the cops aren't looking for dope, what will they be looking for next?"  Because there is one thing which is quite clear:  all those cops will never get laid off.   Never.

    For the past thirty years or more we have had politicians of all stripes telling us what crime-fighting successes they have been, that success usually being rendered into pseudo-objective statistics with a number of "new cops hired and put on the street" being the leading statistic among them.

    Cops impress their bosses, and keep their jobs, pensions and benefits by arresting violators of law.  Indeed, a cop who only encounters innocent people is considered not much of a cop.

    And if they can't arrest people for dope, they'll arrest them for something else.  Because they need to keep their jobs.

    As bad as the dope wars are, they will only get worse if the target of the cops' war on their society changes.

    the funny thing is... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by of1000Kings on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:43:53 PM EST
    they DON'T need any evidence to say that marijuana is a dangerous drug (because there isn't any that is fact) but they do need evidence to say it has medical benefits (wait, I mean, they're waiting for someone to come out and say that it doesn't have any benefits, then they'll have the evidence they want...maybe they could waterboard some researchers or something until they get the answers they are looking for)..seems to be the way things are done in this country..

    as long as politicians make more money lobbying for private prisons after they're done being politicians we won't have a fair discussion about drugs...

    it's all about the benjamens baby..not about what's right or wrong...always been that way...what a great way to run a society...

    I'd really like to hear a fuller description (none / 0) (#8)
    by nycstray on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:50:52 PM EST
    of "dangerous drug" from them.

    I was just thinking that myself... (none / 0) (#9)
    by of1000Kings on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:55:00 PM EST
    probably still thinking in terms of 'reefer madness' dangerous...lol...

    I know a ton of people who smoke...not one has ever killed, stabbed, or robbed in order to get their 'fix' of marijuana...

    dangerous to the user?  ehhh, so is fast food, so is the amount of sugar in soda (but we'll never hear that because of the sugar industry lobbyists--did you guys know that the amount of sugar in soda doesn't make you fat?  lol, love to see that study the Sugar industry did--maybe one soda a week or a month...sure, you won't be fat then, but who do you know that drinks one soda a week or month?)

    don't think they've ever defined the danger of MJ...other than in 'reefer madness' terms from 60 years ago, which have been proven false over and over again (although, no one says that evidence has to be fact/true in order to be used, right)...


    I wonder if it is because (none / 0) (#11)
    by nycstray on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:04:07 PM EST
    you get the munchies and then start pigging out on all the worst processed foods?

    I've never known anyone to get violent while stoned. How often do you hear "He's a nasty stoner"?

    dang, I wish I could remember the site that has sugar amounts of food shown. They have the image of the food item with sugar cubes stacked in front so you can see how much is in there.

    another great industry study is the one from the plastics industry letting people know that those reusable grocery totes pose a health risk, lol!~


    but brew your own booze... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Dadler on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:25:33 PM EST
    ...and you are fine.  puritanical hypocrisy.  too bad the pilgrims didn't love their beer AND bong?

    Any drug that (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:31:45 PM EST
    makes drivin' yer pickup through a burnin' buildin' seem like a dumb idea.

    The movement to (none / 0) (#18)
    by JamesTX on Fri May 22, 2009 at 06:03:08 PM EST
    legalize is very much disorganized, and it is also infiltrated and sabotaged by forces against legalization. The leaders of this movement first need to understand who the enemy is, then they all need to pool their resources and work together. For instance, those who want marijuana legalization should work with groups who want other drugs legalized, instead of holding that they are more "reasonable" because it's "just pot". All drug contraband laws are unreasonable. It has nothing to do with the danger of drugs. If marijuana was absolutely guaranteed to kill anyone who used it within six months, outlawing it would still not be right. The cost would still exceed the benefits.

    Who keeps the contraband laws in place? What financial interests do these laws serve? Why is it so important for the government to "protect" us from these things, when they clearly don't care if we die from lack of medical care or starve to death? Why is our being "protected" against this relatively mild hazard so much more important than being protected from more real hazards?

    How were they able to build the army of agents that will now be virtually impossible to disband? Why won't congresscritters touch it with a ten foot pole? What are they afraid of? That is the same reason Obama can't afford to touch it -- by the way.

    Who is the invisible enemy?

    If those forces were better understood, a better case could be made. I'll give you hint:



    Isn't there already evidence... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by professorWagstaff on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:02:14 PM EST
    that says pot does provide medical benefits? If it didn't then why do so many states have medical programs for pot? Wouldn't lots of folks already be in the loony bin if it was a dangerous drug? I've been through the system for pot before and I can tell you that I found the justice system to be more dangerous than any pot I have smoked. Disconcerting indeed.

    Heh (none / 0) (#3)
    by nycstray on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:04:14 PM EST
    When it comes to an electronic town hall, there are people that can motivate lots of others and lots of sophistication to put a question forward. There are pretty sophisticated groups that are able to manipulate or use that sort of system.

    interesting comment . . . .

    {sigh} he sounds rather set in his opinion. Not only is it not change, it's sounds very off the table for this admin that seems to be throwing everything else on the table.

    Take a deep breath, folks. (none / 0) (#4)
    by randy80302 on Fri May 22, 2009 at 02:13:26 PM EST
    Obama has been President for four months, Kerlikowske just started his job and has not even met with Holder about drug policy issues.

    I have hope that Barack Obama will be more progressive on drug issues than previous Presidents, but it is really too much to expect him to make sweeping changes in his first year, or even his first term.

    People that support Marijuana legalization have a lot of work to do.

    Let's start by joining MPP.org, they fell $750 k short in fundraising last year to qualify for the $3 million dollar match that Peter Lewis made.  

    Have you paid dues to MPP yet this year? Can you work on a fundraising project for them? Do you know someone with significant resources that supports legalization of Marijuana and can write six figure checks?

    It is all good and fine to be upset about marijuana being illegal, but there is work to be done and the national organization that works full time on marijuana issues had to cut grant funding this year.

    If you need someone to help you find a place in the movement, email me randy80302@gmail.com and let's get to work.

    this is NOT (none / 0) (#17)
    by TeresaInPa on Fri May 22, 2009 at 04:37:23 PM EST
    "we just can't do it now"...this is "we do NOT believe in legalizing drugs even marijuanna.

    Smell the coffee


    WTF (none / 0) (#12)
    by Xclusionary Rule 4ever on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:04:41 PM EST
    Depressing. What kind of audience was he addressing? How official were these comments? Has he even been sworn in (or whatever it is we do to czars in this country?

    It's websites like his that keep drugs illegal (none / 0) (#15)
    by jerry on Fri May 22, 2009 at 03:33:08 PM EST

    A little better than TimeCube website design but of the same school as lots of internet cranks.

    (Must be due to all the crazy spaghetti neural connections that drugs make.  (kidding.))

    I'm not asking for paid design sophistication, but this ain't a GeoCities web anymore....

    Just sayin'

    "those aren't in" (none / 0) (#19)
    by lexalexander on Fri May 22, 2009 at 07:22:26 PM EST
    Someone forgot to tell the National Institute of Medicine. In 1999.

    what an unethical POS (none / 0) (#20)
    by boredmpa on Sat May 23, 2009 at 04:47:12 AM EST
    Serving the public should not involve dancing around the truth to avoid discussion or using information asymmetry to manipulate the media or the public.

    "we will wait for evidence on whether smoked marijuana has any medicinal benefits - those aren't in."

    Please. smoking is unrelated to health or legal aspects in this context, except as an obfuscation tactic.  

    People aren't thrown in jail for the way they use marijuana, they're thrown in jail for possession.

    And I can confess I didn't read past the above sentence, because there's no point.

    so maybe he's saying that as long as (none / 0) (#22)
    by of1000Kings on Sat May 23, 2009 at 02:09:10 PM EST
    you use a vaporizer then everything's cool...